1. Santa Cristina Beach in Lloret de Mar
The beaches of Lloret de Mar are the essence of the Costa Brava and it is very hard to just pick one. One of our favourites is Santa Cristina thanks to its privileged position, protected from the winds and offering calm waters that are a favourite with families.
It is accessed by a quaint path that starts near the small hermitage of Santa Cristina, from which the beach gets its name. There is a car park near the hermitage whichmakes it handy if you have a particularly large picnic.
Tip: If you get tired of this beach, you can head to the nearby Cala Boadella, which is much quieter – and smaller – and offers incredible views of the famous wild nature and coastline of Costa Brava. Bear in mind that nudists are welcome at Cala Boadella.
2. Ruins of Empúries in La Escala
Located on the breathtaking Gulf of Roses, the archeological site of Empúries showcases one of the most important Greek ruins in Spain. Initially a Greek settlement, it became the biggest Greek colony in the Iberian Peninsula thanks to its strategic position and was later on occupied by the Romans, who went on to name it an independent city-state before Julius Caesar.
Iberians and Vikings also played an important part in the fascinating history of this area. As a result, the ruins reveal two Greek cities and a Roman city as well as a Necropolis.
Tip: The site has good parking facilities but instead of getting there by car, park in the quaint town of L’Escala and walk along the traffic-free coastal footpath that reaches the ruins.
3. Hike along the coastal footpaths
The Camino de Ronda is a 220 km hiking trail along the coast in Costa Brava running from Blanes to Collioure, a city close to the border of France. It is divided into 17 different segments – most of them starting from well-known areas such as Lloret de Mar, Roses, Cadaqués… – and the views are some of the most impressive you can find in the Mediterranean: on one side you will have secluded beaches, coves and cliffs while on the other green pine forests and mountains will rise and fall away to let you discover picturesque coastal villages where you can enjoy a cold Estrella Damm, the famous Mediterranean beer made in Barcelona since 1876.
Tip: Although one of the most popular coastal trails is the one going from Sant Feliu de Guíxols to S’Agaró we recommend doing the one starting at Calella de Palafrugell and finishing in Llafranc for an authentic Mediterranean and maritime experience. In Llafranc, don’t forget to visit the Sant Sebastiá lighthouse overlooking Llafranc and offering spectacular views of the coastline.
4. Scuba dive in the Medes Island in L’Estartit
One of the best places to dive in Costa Brava is L’Estartit thanks to its location and proximity to Costa del Montgrí and the Marine Nature Reserve of the Medes Islands. The biodiversity and richness of these crystal clear waters, especially those around the archipelago are impressive and will leave even experienced divers in awe.
Tip: It is possible to rent the equipment and dive on your own (please always check that your travel insurance covers scuba diving), but we highly recommend you to book your trip with Unisub a PADI Certificated Scuba Diving Centre with over 50 years of experience and experienced instructors that will make sure no wreck, cove or fish goes unseen on your dive.
5. Visit the Girona Cathedral and the Jewish Quarter
The Cathedral of Santa Maria in Girona’s Old Town feels removed from somewhere in Rome thanks to the magnificent Baroque stone staircase of 96 steps that leads to its entrance and impressive façade. (For disabled people and those arriving by car, it is best to reach the building through the east entrance as there is a small parking area and no steps up to the door.) The cathedral has the widest Gothic nave in the world and is the resting place of several illustrious Spanish and Catalonian personalities throughout history.
The nearby 13th century Jewish Quarter, also known as the Call, is one of the most important in Spain and worth a visit. The neighbourhood has been meticulously preserved and a walk down its narrow streets and stairs is the closest one can get to travelling back in time to Medieval Spain.
Tip: After exploring Girona, there is nothing quite as rewarding as having a 3 Michelin starred gourmet lunch at El Celler de Can Roca. Bookings can be made online on the restaurant’s website.
6. Play golf at PGA Catalunya in Caldes de Malavella
The best golf resort in Spain is only 10 minutes away from Girona and offers outstanding facilities for both beginners and amateurs.
It has 2 superb courses and practice facilities to improve your game whatever your level of expertise may be: there is a putting green, a chipping area and 5 bunkers with different types of sand that recreate the conditions of some of the most important golf courses in the world.
For those needing professional guidance, there are also 2 academies; the one for the younger ones is directed by Spanish golfer Sergio García.
Tip: The PGA’s gastronomy offer is truly mouth-watering but if you want to go somewhere else after your golf session we recommend the thermal resorts Balneario Vichy Catalán and Balneario Prats. They offer delicious local cuisine and a relaxed and down-to-earth environment that is perfect to relax after a long day of practicing your swing.
7. Explore the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres
This extravagant building in Figures, Dali’s hometown, was designed by the artist himself and holds the biggest collection of works of the surreal painter, sculptor and writer.
Believe it or not, even if you are not interested in surrealism, the museum is worth a visit as entering its walls is an experience in itself. The moment you walk in, and gaze around the paintings and the sculptors, you feel as if you were inside the mind of this visionary artist especially when you visit the highly imaginative courtyard.
Tip: After visiting the museum walk to the nearby Carrer Monturiol for some delicious tapas and a glass or two of wine at the superb LIZARRAN Figueres (located almost at the end of the street).
8. Waterworld in Lloret de Mar
Costa Brava is not only a playground for adults and proof of this is the impressive Waterworld aqua park. The rides are divided into Children, Family and Adventurous categories to ensure that everyone, whatever their age, has fun. There are 2 restaurants, a churrería, a burger place and a picnic area.
Tip: You can certainly go back home without visiting these theme park but with free bus shuttles from Lloret de Mar, Tossa de Mar, Blanes and many other locations it is perfect for those days when the beach is just too crowded or the weather outside is too hot to lie on the sand.
9. Eat seafood in Roses at Rafa’s (Carrer de Sant Sebastià, 56)
This cosy restaurant with a nonchalant, authentic attitude is Ferrán Adriá’s favourite restaurant in Roses and once you sit on one of the tables and hear the seafood products hiss on the grill before you smell them in the air is easy to understand why. The fish and seafood products are so fresh that Rafa only serves whatever has been caught on the day and displays it on a counter case for clients to see its quality.
There is no written menu, they just tell you what is available: this can change during the day as sometimes new catches arrive while you are enjoying lunch, all of which makes the experience that bit more authentic. All the food is simply grilled with sea salt and olive oil to preserve its original flavour.
Tip: For dessert, head to the nearby Avinguda de Rhode or Carrer Sant Elm to enjoy an Italian ice cream at Dino and enjoy a walk along the promenade or the beach.
10. Take the touristic train from Roses to Cap de Creus National Park
If you want to visit Roses and Cap de Creus National Park in a different and nostalgic way or if you are travelling with small children and want to make these holidays unforgettable for them, we recommend you ride the charming cultural train Roses and Cap de Creus Expres.
This toy-town looking train is the most comfortable to explore the area as it climbs high up the hills of the bay of Roses and reaches parts other vehicles do not dare to reach to offer you stunning landscapes and views of the sea, the vineyards and Cap de Creus.
Tip: After the trip, reward yourself with a romantic lunch or dinner at the fabulous Hotel Vistabella’s Michelin starred Els Brancs restaurant. Located on top of a cliff overlooking Bonifaci beach it offers the best views in Roses and creative local cuisine.